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Portland, OR: Student violence rampant; SPED aides sue district for $3.6M

Feb 1, 2019, Portland (OR) Tribune: Classroom aides sue local school districts claiming abuse Eight educational assistants are suing Portland Public Schools and several administrators for $3.6 million alleging the special needs students they were supposed to assist frequently assaulted them by biting, scratching, throwing furniture, even urinating on them. The lawsuit accuses the district of negligence, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, discrimination, retaliation and failure to re-employ. The lawsuit claims the district and administrators did not sufficiently protect the educational assistants or students. ... Being battered is a widespread concern for workers in special education classrooms. In early January, an educational aide sued the Gresham-Barlow School District and a principal, alleging she had also been harmed by special needs students. The Oregon School Employees Association, the union for educational aides and other classified employees, recently featured a series of articles on the topic on its web site. The 61-page PPS lawsuit, filed Jan. 28 in Multnomah County Circuit Court, charges that students bit, kicked, scratched, spit and urinated on the aides and some of the assaults were sexual. The suit was originally filed by two educational assistants in November, but amended, adding the six other aides and increasing the amount of damages. The $3.6 million is for economic damages some of the women suffered and $450,000 each for non-economic damages. ... Dangerous behavior Rebecca Cambreleng, attorney for the educational aides, said the classroom helpers were worried about the students' behavior, noting that the violence is not the students' fault. "Nobody blames these children. They aren't getting the support they need," Cambreleng said. ... The suit details a litany of assaults on each of the eight. The lasuit alleges that at Woodlawn Moore and Ferrer-Burgett "endured students biting, kicking, slapping, punching, pinching, scratching, spitting, head-butting and being urinated on and choked." They also had furniture thrown at them and endured sexual assaults. The suit says students sometimes ran from the room and the aides had to chase them and the classroom often had to be cleared because a student "was having a dangerous behavioral episode." Despite complaints, the lawsuit said "no measures were put in place to protect the staff from frequent abuse." ...


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